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8

Ruff

(Philomachus pugnax)
Alternate name(s): "Reeve" (female)
German name(s): "Kampfläufer"

Size: 29-32 cm (male), 22-26 cm (female);
wing span 54-60 cm (male), 46-49 cm (female)
Weight: 180 g (average; male), 110 g (average; female)
Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Ruff at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

ADULT

BREEDING

MALE

Breeding male Ruffs display an enormous variety of plumages. We have created a small GALLERY OF EXAMPLES.

Frontal view of a senior male Ruff in full breeding plumage courting a female, different part of the display (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Near-frontal view of a senior male Ruff in full breeding plumage (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Lateral view of a senior male Ruff in near-complete breeding plumage; except for the still missing ear tufts, this bird has the "classical" appearance of a senior male, with a black head and front, white belly, vent and undertail coverts, scalloped/barred brown to dark-brown back, orange-brown bill and warty skin around the eyes (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Lateral view of a senior male Ruff in near-complete breeding plumage (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Near-dorsal view of two senior male Ruffs in near-complete breeding plumage (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

This lateral view of a male Ruff has captured the moment when the bird had gone through the general moult into breeding plumage (back, belly), but has not started the additional moult for the ear tufts and ruff yet (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Two senior male Ruffs, centre and right, that have finished their general moult, but do not have ruff or ear tufts yet, and a more junior male left, with a partial ruff, indicating near-complete breeding plumage (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[River Bug, near Brok, Masovia, Poland, May 2017]

Female Ruff, left, junior male Ruff, 2nd from left, a more senior male, 2nd from right and a senior male on the right (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[River Bug, near Brok, Masovia, Poland, May 2017]

FEMALE

Near-dorsal view of a female Ruff in breeding plumage (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Near-dorsal view of a female Ruff in breeding plumage (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Mix of male and female Ruffs that are moulting into breeding plumage; senior male, left, junior male, 2nd from left, and two females - note the size difference: the females are smaller than the males (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[River Bug, near Brok, Masovia, Poland, May 2017]

Junior male Ruff, left, with a partial ruff, indicating near-complete breeding plumage, and a female on the right (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[River Bug, near Brok, Masovia, Poland, May 2017]

NON-BREEDING

MALE

Ruffs in non-breeding plumage foraging in shallow water; note that the bird on the left is taller than the other and that it has an orange-brown base to its bill, both indicating that it is a male (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[River Bug, near Brok, Masovia, Poland, March 2017]

Ruffs in non-breeding plumage foraging in shallow water; male on the left, female on the right (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[River Bug, near Brok, Masovia, Poland, March 2017]

FEMALE

Near-frontal view of a female Ruff in non-breeding plumage foraging in shallow water (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[River Bug, near Brok, Masovia, Poland, March 2017]

Lateral view of Ruffs in non-breeding plumage (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[River Bug, near Brok, Masovia, Poland, March 2017]

Ruffs in non-breeding plumage foraging in shallow water (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[River Bug, near Brok, Masovia, Poland, March 2017]

Dorsal view of Ruffs in non-breeding plumage foraging in shallow water (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[River Bug, near Brok, Masovia, Poland, March 2017]

Behaviour

Male Ruffs have elaborate courtship displays and they also fight over the right to mate with females. They grow their elaborate ear tufts and ruffs not only to impress females, but also the male competition. The way they go about this has earned them their name "pugnax" (pugnacious).

Frontal view of a male Ruff in full breeding plumage courting a female (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Frontal view of a male Ruff in full breeding plumage courting a female, different part of the display (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Lateral view of a male Ruff in full breeding plumage courting a female (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Male Ruff in full breeding plumage, right, trying to impress a female, also in breeding plumage, left (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Male Ruff in full breeding plumage, right, trying to impress a female, also in breeding plumage, left (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Male Ruff in trying to impress a female while pursuing her (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Male Ruff pursuing a female (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Rough Ruff cock fight... (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Ruffs feeding in a marsh in inland Poland (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Flock of Ruffs feeding and courting in a marsh in inland Poland (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Wider overview of the area in which the flock of Ruffs was found (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

Flock of Ruffs taking off at sunset, presumably to fly to their roosts (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Biebrza NP, Poland, May 2017]

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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